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At what point do you choose to put your dog down?


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#1 of 113 Randy Tennison

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Posted August 04 2006 - 06:13 AM

We have a 14 year old dog that we truly love. He was our pseudo child for many years (until last year when our son arrived). Many people have said that when they die, they want to come back as our dog.

But lately, he's just not himself. He has cataracts, is mostly deaf, and really can't smell. He's overweight, and tends to sleep all day, unless he's begging loudly for treats, or crying while we are at the dinner table. He has also lost his potty training, and is urinating all over the house. Even when we are there, he will not scratch to get out, or let us know, he will simply pee on the carpet.

He is just not the same dog. He does not interact with us much, and hates our son, growling at him, or just simply ignoring him. He doesn't sleep with us, or even sit in the same room. He often seems to be out of it, not knowing which side of a door to go to when I open it, bumping into walls, etc.

It's gotten so bad that I find myself always mad at the dog for peeing, or crying at the table, or whining for a treat (he gets plenty of treats, by the way. I figure at 14, what's another Snausage going to hurt).

I've been really wrestling whether to have him put to sleep. I can't say he's ill, or in pain. He simply does not have a quality of life anymore, being mostly blind and deaf. I wrestle with it because I wonder if I'm doing it for his benefit or ours. I hate having to clean the carpets, having the smell in the house, and having my son play where the dog has peed. But, I also don't want him to be suffering.

What have you guys done?
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#2 of 113 John_Kiger

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Posted August 04 2006 - 07:02 AM

If this was a person, a full care nursing home, with Haldol and Attends, would be indicated. That's probably not an option. You can't have the dog wetting the floor constantly. It will hurt, but it's time to go. Your son deserves a nicer sibling. I know I'd sound more sensitive if I knew your dog, and I am sorry for your family's dilemma.

#3 of 113 Jerome Grate

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Posted August 04 2006 - 07:23 AM

Buddy, our dog is 12 years old though he does not wet the floor all the time he does it occasionally. We think he is losing his hearing and he is friendly to the kids and the new cat that's only been in our house for 4 months. I wouldn't put him down since the dog is not in obvious pain. The only issue I have is the dog with your son. If you have another place to send the dog like outside or his own dog house it might help.
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#4 of 113 Randy Tennison

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Posted August 04 2006 - 08:10 AM

He's a small dog (Silky Terrier) and he no longer likes going outside for long periods. He's always been a house dog.

I guess the real personal dilema is why am I considering this? Is it for his sake, or ours? I know my wife feels the same way, along with the same guilt. He's gone from being our loving pup to a grouchy old man.

I'm also going to have to have our 2 year old carpet professionally cleaned, the pad taken up and replaced, and the floor boards sealed, because the odor comes out on humid days.

It's just a tough decision.
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#5 of 113 Bryan X

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Posted August 04 2006 - 08:43 AM

My dog is 13 and even though I haven't had to wrestle with that question yet, I know it's coming.

She is starting to show her age. Her eyes are starting to glaze over, her hearing isn't what it used to be, and she can't get up and down from furniture like she used to.

The seeing/hearing issues are pretty easy to deal with as a dog ages. But the loss of 'house training' is the biggie isn't it? If/when my dog loses her house training, that's when I'll start to consider putting her down. It will be tough, but what else can you do with a dog who can't control their urinating?

I don't look forward to that day. We are all attached to her. My son especially. Our dog was 1 1/2 when our son was born, so they have grown up together. Posted Image

#6 of 113 Mike Frezon

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Posted August 04 2006 - 08:47 AM

Randy: I, too, feel the pain of your situation.

Just a few months ago I had to have Hudson, my beloved 13-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever, put down in a situation which has parallels to yours.

The question you ask about "why am I doing this--for us or for the dog's sake"? is a common one. I would think in most instances, the answer is a mix of both. The best way to be sure is a trip to the vet.

Dogs have a way of dealing with pain that is different from humans. A vet will be able to tell you what issues your dog is dealing with. They have a trained eye to see if your dog is in pain. I would guess that the change in demeanor you described is likely caused by some kind of pain (arthritis is common in older dogs). While a vet cannot tell you what to do...they will give you guidance and assurances.

Then, even when you know you are doing the right thing...it will still hurt like hell and you will still question what you did. But know that you did the right thing...not just for you--but for your pet, too.

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All the best to you and your family.

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#7 of 113 Jeff Pryor

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Posted August 04 2006 - 10:00 AM

This is a very tough decision. I would say it's the dog's time, but that's too easy. I have an 11 year old border collie named Trixi, she's the best damn dog I've ever owned in my entire life. I know one day her time will come, but for me to have to make that decision for her would be just heart wrenching. If you're a man of faith then praying about this would be appropriate.

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#8 of 113 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted August 04 2006 - 10:10 AM

My thinking is that the dog has given you and your family unconditional love and enjoyment for all his life, so dealing with problems like these in his old age is not that big an issue. The quality of life changes for all of us over time, as long as he is not suffering, I'd have a hard time justifying having him killed. There are ways to contain the pet indoors to limit accident damage. I feel I owe it to my pets to do everything possible to keep them happy and comfortable while I can. I put my dog down only when he developed cancer and was obviously in a lot of discomfort. Even then it was incredibly hard to do as he still enjoyed walks (even though he couldn't do it very easily). It is a tough decision, no doubt. I would want to be certain that I was not just doing it for my convenience.

#9 of 113 Richard Travale

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Posted August 04 2006 - 06:06 PM

The decision was made when we realized that her quality of life was not there anymore. She was losing control of herself and as much as people say they can't feel shame, I know that Scheiden felt shame when she couldn't hold it in until she got outside.
Also, look at how they are eating and drinking and generally interacting with the family. Is this a dog that usually loves dinner and can't wait to play with the family but can't do it anymore? Is the dog in pain a lot of the time (signs include severe panting and ears pinned back...watch for this carefully)? If these things are happening with your dog then the only fair thing, the only humane thing to do is to end it.

It will hurt like hell but you will have to be comforted in the knowledge that it was the best thing to do.
Just the fact that you are asking says to me that it may be time.

I'm sorry.

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#10 of 113 Mike Frezon

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Posted August 04 2006 - 06:10 PM

Richard: Beautiful picture of a beautiful dog. ...and well said.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#11 of 113 Johnny Angell

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Posted August 05 2006 - 04:24 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Frezon
The question you ask about "why am I doing this--for us or for the dog's sake"? is a common one. I would think in most instances, the answer is a mix of both. The best way to be sure is a trip to the vet.

Dogs have a way of dealing with pain that is different from humans. A vet will be able to tell you what issues your dog is dealing with. They have a trained eye to see if your dog is in pain. I would guess that the change in demeanor you described is likely caused by some kind of pain (arthritis is common in older dogs). While a vet cannot tell you what to do...they will give you guidance and assurances.
A trip to the vet is good advice. Ask your vet "what is his quality of life?" Your vet may say the time has come or he may recommend some treatment.

If you don't want to feel guilty about making the final decision, then you need a vet to asses his condition. IMHO, this is your next step.
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#12 of 113 Mike Heenan

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Posted August 06 2006 - 03:38 PM

We took my 16 yr old Shih-Tzu to be put down the day he appeared he was going to die naturally. His last day, he was moping around, could not walk well and just layed down all the time. We decided then to take him, and on the way to the vet, he started barking and howling and such, and crapped on my pants on the way there (I had him in my arms). We got him inside and on the table but by then he'd pretty much died and wasn't moving much. About a year and half prior to that, I'd notice several changes in him, he fell in the pool a few times, but luckily made it to the top step but could not get out. He was slower, but didn't appear to be blind or deaf that much. His last few months, he had trouble getting himself up while he was sleeping, so sometimes he would pee in the spot where he was. And other times he would bark to get someone to prop him up so he could get some water or food. That being said, I would never have put him down before his time just simply for peeing or pooing on the carpet or whatever. That sort of stuff goes with the territory of having a dog. Although he could not get up very well, he did not seem to be in discomfort otherwise (didn't bark or yip).

#13 of 113 Patrick_S

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Posted August 06 2006 - 05:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Tennison
I guess the real personal dilema is why am I considering this? Is it for his sake, or ours?
It's for yours.

One of the biggest misconception people make about pets is that they view life in the same way humans do. They simply don't and as such they don't have the same standards to apply to the "quality of life" argument.

Ultimately from the facts presented in the original post your decision boils down to one simply reality, what is best for me.

#14 of 113 Yee-Ming

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Posted August 06 2006 - 08:29 PM

My wife's family's dog is about 15 now (she was a stray they took in, who was at least one, and that was 14 years ago). She dislocated her hip about a year ago but recovered. She was always a very lively, (hyper)active dog, but nowadays sleeps a lot. She also used to have excellent bladder (and #2) control, but nowadays can't always hold it and sometimes makes a mess in our flat.

But it's clear it's not her time yet, she has good days, and bad days. On good days she's almost the lively doggie she used to be, running madcap up and down while trying to wangle a treat, but those are rare. She's also obviously getting cataracts, and has gotten more fussy when eating, or wants to be fed literally hand-to-mouth at times.

#15 of 113 Paul Padilla

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Posted August 07 2006 - 05:28 AM

So sorry to read about your dilemma, Randy. We've had to travel that road twice in the last few years. Each dog was 15 when their time came and the second was actually the daughter of the first. They both had very full lives. Our current Sheppard/Lab male and Great Dane female are two of the sweetest dogs we've ever known.

Posted Image

I'm happy to see that "quality of life" has been mentioned several times. That's really the key. True, animals don't view it the way we do, but then neither do small children and this is where I vehemently disagree with the ascertion that the decision to let our pets go is completely egocentric. The question is not, "how do they view their quality of life?" To the best of our knowledge, their comprehension is more simply about comfort vs. pain. As the ones who love them and are responsible for their well being it is up to us to assess it for them to the best of our abilities. It is a serious decision to make and it isn't only about the dog nor is it only about you. Regardless of the previous crass appraisal, the fact that you're struggling with is demonstrates that you are genuinely concerned for the dog's well being.

Both of the dogs we let go had fought cancer at more than one point in their lives and before we proceded with any treatments we asked ourselves the same question you're wrestling with. Were we doing it for us of for them? In our case, their long and active lives which followed was our answer. As mentioned above, a trip to the vet is certainly in order for you. There may be something that can be corrected regarding the urination, and the aggression could easily be attributed to arthritis pain which can also be managed. The weight issue is likely contributing to his discomfort so back off on the food a tad and (forgive me) the extra treats should really be curbed until you have a handle on the situation medically. Just because a dog will take food when they're whining doesn't mean that's what they were after. I understand that his vision is compromised, but does he get a regular walk? Most times anxious behavior like the crying at the table is pent up from lack of exercise. Even if you have a nice yard, dogs benefit immensely from a daily structured walk. Again, check with your vet first, but barring major disabilities there's no reason he shouldn't be able to go up the block and back with you each day.

This should not be a completely emotional decision, but it can not be a purely analytical one either. No compationate vet will tell you definitively whether or not to put your dog to sleep. They will simply give you as accurate a prognosis as possible and inform you of the likely success of any options there may be. Refusing food and water and lack of bowel movements are probably the biggest red flags and it doesn't sound like he's there at this point. Trust your instincts and your vet.

All the best to you, your family, and your furry companion.
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#16 of 113 Joe Szott

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Posted August 07 2006 - 05:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick_S
It's for yours.

One of the biggest misconception people make about pets is that they view life in the same way humans do. They simply don't and as such they don't have the same standards to apply to the "quality of life" argument.

Ultimately from the facts presented in the original post your decision boils down to one simply reality, what is best for me.

I hate to be a downer, but Patrick is correct IMHO.

I've had dogs my entire life as pets, friends, companions, and even patients (my Mom was a vet's assistant for years.) What I've learned through experience and reading is that a dog is first and foremost an animal, not a human. They have instincts and feel pain sure, but not really in the same sense that we do. They are pack animal though and as such have a high need to socialize within the pack. As people we mistake this socializing for human "love" or "affection". Really for a dog it is part of survival, of fitting into a pack.

This is why when you leave your dog with a friend for longer than say a week or two, they don't pine more than a couple of days. They integrate into the new pack and once acclimated are as happy there as they were at "home". It's not a betrayal from the dog, it's just that well ... they are a dog and that's what they do. Posted Image

What I'm getting at here is that for a dog quality of life has a different meaning than for people. Usually a pack will tear a dog that can no longer contribute to the pack apart, ever seen a 15 yr old wolf? When a dog gets old enough that it cannot contribute anymore, they actually withdraw from the pack (or your family) out of instinct that they may be destroyed. But the pack is everything, it's like if I put a person in solitary confinement and allowed no human contact of any kind. No physical pain, but is that life worth living?

If your dog has withdrawn from its pack and will not socialize with anyone, it senses the end even if you do not. Just be aware that it might be time now, best bet is to go to your vet steeled to recieve that news.

I'm sorry, I wish dogs could live a lot longer (it would make it a lot easier.)

#17 of 113 Buzz Foster

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Posted August 07 2006 - 06:52 AM

I lost two pets close to each other less than a year after my divorce. Not a fun time. One died on the way to the vet, which was merciful in that I did not have to make the call. The other one I had to. My son was there, and we talked about it. She was suffering, though giving few outward signs of it.

I still wonder if I did enough for the two of them...if the outcome would have been better had I acted sooner on their behalf, or was this inevitable? The dog was of unknown age, but at least 14. The cat was 16. But I live with the comfort that they were loved and treasured, and having both been rescued strays, had much better lives than what they would have had.

And neither of them had significant improvements in their quality of life in their future. Even in stable condition, they were both elderly, and sure to deteriorate.

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#18 of 113 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted August 07 2006 - 06:58 AM

Quote:
If your dog has withdrawn from its pack and will not socialize with anyone, it senses the end even if you do not. Just be aware that it might be time now, best bet is to go to your vet steeled to recieve that news.
I'm going to disagree based on the original poster's note that the household has changed with the arrival of the baby, which likely has meant the attention the pet once received has diminished to a certain extent. It could be that the behaviour is due to feeling pushed aside (abandoned by the pack), and not just age related. It would not be surprising if the dog had a resentment of the child either.

I would agree with others that the question of putting the dog down sounds more like it is driven by inconvenience than deterioration of the animal, but a vet should be able to tell you whether the animal is indeed on the decline.

One point about having animals is that they are not in their wild environment, and don't necessarily have to be treated as though they are. I've had many pets who would have been killed by their peers in the wild, but my involvement saved them from that, and even if they didn't live the full life span a healthy animal would have, they lived a lot longer than they would have otherwise. Just becaus ethe pack would have killed them off doesn't mean we have to at the first sign of a change in their quality of life.

#19 of 113 Grant B

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Posted August 07 2006 - 07:31 AM

So Sorry to hear about your dog.
We just had a loss and both me & my wife are total wrecks.
He was having trouble with his bowels also.
Funny now that he's gone I even miss cleaning up after him..... he was always so happy and thankful when we cleaned him up.
Don't give up on him too quick. he lived another month after the doctors told us hours.

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#20 of 113 Philip Hamm

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Posted August 07 2006 - 08:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Tennison
He has also lost his potty training, and is urinating all over the house. Even when we are there, he will not scratch to get out, or let us know, he will simply pee on the carpet.
That right there is usually the exact signal that the dog needs to go. Dogs will not soil their den, when they do it usually means they're too sick or too gone to help it.
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